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How One Swiss Watch Brand Is Reminding Its Retailers They Are Important

Hamilton offered an experience to remember.

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BACK IN EARLY OCTOBER, I was invited as a guest of Hamilton watches – a Swatch Group brand – to fly to Indianapolis for the next-to-last leg of the 2018 edition of the Red Bull Air Race. Hamilton serves as the official timekeeping sponsor of the race, which after being launched in 2003 has turned into an international event with eight race stages held in different parts of the world throughout the year, starting in February and ending in November. This year, the last two stages were competed on U.S. soil: the October event, which I attended, and, the final event in Fort Worth, TX. What I had not realized when I arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, however, was that I’d be the only U.S. journalist in a group of watch and jewelry retailers, which to me said a lot about how the brand wants to be perceived by those who sell it.

It is not a secret to anyone in our industry that the Swatch Group pulled all of its 18 brands out of the 2019 edition of the Baselworld jewelry and watch fair. I even wrote a piece covering the news on this very website not too long ago. But it’s also not news that the decision has left many to wonder what is next for the group and the brands that operate under its umbrella. That is why in the interim, watch companies like Hamilton are doing all they can to keep their name in the limelight, while making sure that their customers – and writers like moi who cover the brand – stay happy.

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My Red Bull Air Race journey included something called the Red Bull G-Flight Experience. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to do immediately after a three-course lunch, you’d be 100 percent correct. But my PR contact at Hamilton knew that I wasn’t a G-Flight virgin, as I’d completed a similar flight with a different RBAR pilot (representing a different watch brand) about a year prior, and I was eager to get back in the air.

Hamilton Watches presented me with my own Top Gun-esque flight suit before reading me my last righ … err, going over the safety instructions and introducing me to the pilot who’d be taking me through the experience. This was clearly something they’d done in the past and most certainly something they want people to remember. I mean, think about it: If you’re a retailer with a decent social media following and/or a website and you come back from something like this WITH VIDEO PROOF (yes, my experience is up on YouTube for all the world to see), how awesome is that going to look to your customers? Heck, I look like a heroine to my kids after doing it, so imagine what it could do for a retailer’s image!

But the G-Flight Experience was only a small part of the proverbial red carpet which was rolled out by the team at Hamilton watches. When I arrived at the VIP tent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was ushered over to the private Hamilton section for lunch and champagne. This is where I met and spoke with retail representatives such as Lane Schiffman with Schiffman’s – a well-established jeweler with three doors in North Carolina – as well as folks from Safa Jewelers in New Jersey, DeVries in Michigan, Moyer Fine Jewelers in Indiana, and Schwarzschild Keller & George in Virginia, to name a few. Everyone wore a different Hamilton watch and all were happy to be right in front of where the race action was taking place. Guests of the brand were also treated to a tour of the speedway’s famous “Pagoda” as well as a meet-and-greet with the three Red Bull Air Race pilots who are the brand’s Ambassadors: Nicolas Ivanoff of France, Pete McLeod of Canada, and Juan Velarde of Spain.

The two-day event was topped off each night with a beautiful dining experience and drinks, not to mention celebratory camaraderie thanks to Hamilton’s McLeod and Ivanoff walking away with the trophies for second and third place for the Indy leg.

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All in all, the experience left me feeling hopeful that watch brands who still very much care about their retail partners are willing to do what it takes to demonstrate their value. I’ve spoken to retailers who feel that more watch brands are going the route of opening their own boutiques, leaving the brick-and-mortar stores – whom they largely needed at one time – out in the cold. But on the flip side, there are some retailers who haven’t always been good at upholding their end of the business bargain.

Still, if we work together – meaning the wholesaler, retailer, designer and brand – realizing that our end game is the same, we will not only be able to keep this industry afloat, but may even get the chance to see it skyrocket. Wishful thinking, I know, but what do you expect from a writer with her head in the clouds?

 

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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Vegas Must-Haves #8: Long-and-Lean Earrings Are Everywhere

They’ve been popular at awards shows and on international catwalks.

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Heading out to Vegas for Jewelry Week? Here are some of the trends we are predicting you will see and that you might want to bring into your store. Some have been going strong for a few seasons, while others have been evolving for a couple of years. All are popular from the red carpet to the ready-to-wear runways to the jewelry design studios. So, why not try your luck with this trend or the others we will be showing?

From the red carpet to the runways to the design studios, all styles of earrings continue to be strong. One style that we saw at all the big awards shows this past season as well as on the international catwalks was the long and lean look. The earrings can range from sticks of diamonds to streamlined and linear with more movement, traced with enamel and/or popped with colored stones, and can go from mid-length to shoulder-skimming.

Lili Reinhardt in Swarovski earrings at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards Photo: Shutterstock

GiGi Ferranti Gia Deco 14K stick earrings with Zambian emeralds and diamonds. gigiferranti.com. $5,200

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EF Collection 14K gold diamond and enamel Stripe Bar Drop Earrings. efcollection.com. $650

Harwell Godfrey 18K gold articulated black and white diamond stick earrings in yellow gold, harwellgodfrey.com. $2,700.

Effy Pave Classica 14K White Gold Diamond Vertical Earrings, 0.35 TCW effyjewelry.com. $1,095.00

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Columns

Vegas Must-Haves #7: Attention-Grabbing Gold Chains That Mix New and Old

They’re being linked and looped together in creative ways.

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Heading out to Vegas for Jewelry Week? Here are some of the trends we are predicting you will see and that you might want to bring into your store. Some have been going strong for a few seasons, while others have been evolving for a couple of years. All are popular from the red carpet to the ready-to-wear runways to the jewelry design studios. So, why not try your luck with this trend or the others we will be showing?

Gold chains are back as a statement and a staple for your customer’s jewelry wardrobe.

I first started noticing the trend to weightier and gutsier chains in 2016, and they are being linked and looped together in creative ways. Many of the modern links take their cue from antique bold gold curb and paperclip watch chains and/or long vintage 70s large rectangular and oval links. Your clients can wear these alone or add charms and medallions. Foundrae is a perfect example of showing different lengths, styles and widths of chains and connector links to add their meaningful pendants. Add different charms or teach customers how to wear the longer versions doubled or creatively as lariats or elongated Y necklaces.

Tod’s Fall/Winter 2019/20 Runway Show

Jemma Wynne 18k gold Toujours emerald necklace with diamonds $15,750 jemmawynne.com

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Sylva & Cie 14K rose gold diamond oval link chain with champagne diamonds approximately .90 TCW sylvaandcie.com. 9,750.00

Foundrae 18K gold mixed oversized clip choker. foundrae.com. $14,995

Brent Neale 18K gold textured chain link necklace. brentneale.com $9,850.

Marla Aaron heavy sterling silver curb chain with baby 14K lock. marlaaron.com $682

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Editor's Note

This Year’s INSTORE Design Awards Winners Followed In a Stellar Tradition

With 25 categories, many designers had the chance to shine.

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EVERY YEAR, I’M consistently impressed by the ingenuity displayed by the jewelry designers who enter the INSTORE Design Awards. Two years ago, Hisano Shepherd of Little H made a splash with her fresh take on pearls, slicing them open and encrusting them with gemstones. Last year, Katey Brunini won three categories with three separate pieces from her intricate and colorful Eating Watermelon In The Black Forest collection, while TAP By Todd Pownell took two other categories with their striking, nature-inspired use of diamonds.

This year, with so many more categories (25, as opposed to eight last year), lots of designers made their mark. Adel Chefridi won two categories and a Retailer’s Choice award with his geometric matte designs. Thorsten placed with three different show-stopping wedding band designs. Manufacturers Gabriel & Co. and UNEEK Fine Jewelry each had multiple winners. The mesmerizing Sultana ring by Annamaria Cammilli Firenze cleaned up across several categories. Then there was our Grand Prize winning piece: the VIVAAN cuff (featured on our cover) with nearly 30 carats of natural fancy color diamonds that won over both our judges and online voters.

When you’re shopping the Las Vegas trade shows, start with the winners of this design competition. If they’re turning heads among our judges and online voters, they’re sure to turn the heads of your clients as well.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • When displaying men’s jewelry, opt for timeless elements like antique fly-fishing reels, old toy cars or old sports items. (Ask Instore, p. 91)
  • Longer ad copy yields better results, as proven by Google. (Jim Ackerman, p. 90)
  • Always display in odd numbers; it’s more aesthetically pleasing. (Three Things I Know About, p. 94)
  • Ask questions that elicit a “yes” from the woman in order to close the male buyer. (Shane Decker, p. 92)
  • When retirement is in the near future, start maximizing net profit to build the value of your business. (David Brown, p. 94)
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